Cheap Book Storage Boxes

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m addicted to literacy!

Like most preschool and kindergarten teachers, I have a lot of picture books. When I was student teaching I met a teacher who had an addition put on her house just to store her picture book collection!

My husband says an addition for my addiction books is not necessary, so until I can persuade him otherwise I will have to continue to search for creative solutions.
ice cube book storage box

Cheap Book Storage Boxes

Of course, I have a classroom library with plenty of books facing forward {this is important} for the students to read all year long.

But I also have a separate “teacher bookshelf” stocked with favorite read-alouds like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, No, David! and many others.

I struggled for a long time to find a way to best organize the books on my teacher bookshelf.

classroom library

How to Store Picture Books

I knew I had struck gold when I found the ice cube storage bins pictured at the top. I found them in the kitchen plastics aisle of my local blue and yellow big box store for about $2.

I like these boxes for storing and organizing picture books because they are long and can accommodate most books easily.

I don’t like to use magazine holders because they are usually too narrow to fit all of my picture books and often too tall to fit on my bookshelves.

Cardboard is affordable and can be cut down to fit on shelves, but it is not as durable and does disintegrate over time- trust me, I tried.

The beauty of these containers is that I can take the entire box off the shelf and return it again without having to struggle to shove books back in place or fend off falling books.

This method also protects my books from excessive spine and cover damage associated with storing books on shelves in the traditional “library style”.

Being the organizational freak goddess that I am, I also made labels to put on the end of the boxes.

Get your free, printable book box labels HERE.

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About Vanessa Levin

Vanessa is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping kids and teachers through her professional development sessions. Follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest.


  1. Do they not topple over from the weight of the books? It looks to me like the books lean toward the back and it seems that would make the container fall over.

    • Hi Amy- These are for my storage use only, not the kids – I like to think I’m a little more careful than they are but not always :) The boxes sit on the shelf side by side with each one touching the next so they do not fall over. I haven’t had any problems, but then again my boxes are packed full of books. I took out some of the books when I took the picture. Overall I like them a lot better than the cardboard magazine boxes.

      • Ok that makes sense, thanks! That looks like a pretty clever idea if they don’t fall over! I’ve been struggling for years on how to organize my books that I only bring out occasionally. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this idea!! I have been struggling with the same situation and your organizational tricks are always so helpful – thanks!

  3. I have stackable plastic drawer units. Each drawer has one-two week’s worth of books (I rotate them for my classroom reading center). The drawers also hold other props I might use that week. I have sticker labels on each drawer and they are stacked in the order that I use them.

  4. I actually ended up going with the cardboard magazine boxes and have not regretted it. I got mine at IKEA. 5 boxes for 1.99! I put cute labels on the front of boxes.

  5. Debbie Clement says:

    Don’t ya just LUV finding a solution for a need that’s been nagging? Looks pretty brilliant from where I’m sitting. Vanessa, thanks for everything you do to make lives better!!!!

    Hope you have a brilliant weekend full of inspiration.


  6. Heidi Butkus says:

    Another great idea, Vanessa! Keep them coming!!!
    I wonder if they are even cheaper at the dollar store!!!!
    I always enjoy your “tongue in cheek” writing style, too, LOL!
    Heidi Butkus

    • I couldn’t find them at the dollar store but if you see them please let me know! I could always use some more :)

  7. Thanks for another great idea! Is the stand with all the bins full of books that you have with your classroom library something you purchased for that purpose or something you “created”? I’m having trouble getting enough books out easily accessible and easily managed for children and lack the classroom furniture to do so. I will definitely use the planter boxes!

    • Hi Lori, Yes, that 3 tiered book rack with the blue bins is from a teacher supply catalog. Before I had that though I just lined up dollar store dish tubs along the bottom of my word wall, it worked just as well. I have seen some teachers create low bookshelves out of painted cinder blocks and 2x4s, one row of books on top and one below.

  8. I just got back from “the” store and bought 4 of these. Cannot wait to bring them to work and use them tomorrow. I will use them when I put out the monthly theme books. I was using the plastic magazine holders but it was hard to thumb through and see the books. This will work better. Thanks for another great idea.

  9. Great tip.Even at home the books constantly being off the shelf can be frustrating! Oh, and I have a dream of an addition for my books. I just haven’t convinced my husband…yet. 😉

  10. GREAT IDEA!!! I am a new teacher to PreK and LOVE your website and ideas people share. I need some ideas on how to divide my books-by subject, theme, letter of the week, colors???? I have sooo many books. What do I place at the listening center? Kids tore up some books and pulled cassette apart…YIKES what to do?

  11. Hi Marisela, I sent you an e-mail with some ideas :)

  12. This is an innovative idea!

  13. I’d love to hear ideas on separating books too! Last year we opened our preschool and received a ton of donated books. It’s my most overwhelming thing in my class! Love your website!

Printables for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers